Eggs benedict is one of those dishes that appears in almost all cafes that serve all-day breakfast and brunch, much like bacon and eggs and toasted bagels.
The eggs benedict consists of a few essential components – some sort of carbohydrate that can come in the form of a toasted English muffin, focaccia bread, bagel and even thick hash brown, a perfectly poached egg, and Hollandaise sauce. The choice of adding smoked salmon, bacon, ham or spinach is optional and this can vary between cafes, although bacon is a very popular choice.
|Teed Street Larder|
In my perspective, there are many aspects that helps me decide whether the eggs benedict is bad, good or exceptional. The first thing is whether the carbohydrate component can be cut with a knife. Sometimes, when the english muffin is overly toasted, it can be complicated to cut it into bite sized pieces and this makes it hard to chew and eat in a clean manner.
Secondly, the taste and amount of sauce. Hollandaise sauce is an egg yolk and butter emulsion, the texture should be smooth and creamy, and the taste should be rich and buttery. Depending on the cafe and whether they make their own Hollandaise sauce, you can find the addition of black pepper or mustard seeds. I personally prefer the incorporation of mustard seeds as it adds a nice distinctive flavour. The amount of sauce should be enough to accompany both portions and this is crucial because the lack of a decent serving of sauce can make the dish very dry.
|Takapuna Beach Cafe|
Lastly, if you decide to order the bacon eggs benedict, the bacon should be crispy but not over done, as similar to the bread, it would be messy and hard to chew. This is why I prefer having smoked salmon as it is easy to cut and in my opinion, tastes better than bacon.
If I had to give an award to a cafe that serves the best eggs benedict, Ernesto in Wellington would be the winner – hands down. The poached eggs were flawless, the sauce was rich and creamy, the bacon was perfectly cooked and the ‘thing’ that gave Ernesto the edge, would be the use of thick hash brown medallions instead of bread. The idea was ingenious and because I have never seen it done at other cafes, the concept and taste was phenomenal.